HBO Boxing’s flagship program kicks off 2016 with a highly anticipated light heavyweight title rematch when Sergey Kovalev vs. Jean Pascal II is shown, along with Dmitry Mikhaylenko vs. Karim Mayfield, on Saturday, January 30th at 9:45 p.m. from the Bell Centre in Montreal, exclusively on HBO.
Undefeated Sergey “Krusher” Kovalev (28-0-1, 25 KOs) of Kopeysk, Russia, now living and training in Los Angeles and Ft. Lauderdale, defends his light heavyweight crown for the second time against Jean Pascal (30-3-1, 17 KOs) of Quebec, Canada, in a scheduled 12-round bout.
The 32-year-old Kovalev, who owns one of the highest knockout percentages in boxing and is among the fiercest punchers, has been a force in the 175-pound division, beating ring legend Bernard Hopkins in a unification bout, as well as knocking out Nathan Cleverly and Cedric Agnew prior to his fiercely contested victory over Pascal in March 2015. His name appears on virtually every list that ranks the sport’s pound-for-pound aces.
After losing to Kovalev via technical knockout, Pascal, 33, rebounded with a decision win against Yunieski Gonzalez in Las Vegas last July and now seeks victory before a hometown Montreal crowd. The fight marks Kovalev’s eighth appearance on HBO and Pascal’s sixth.
The opening bout features undefeated welterweight prospect Dmitry Mikhaylenko (20-0, 9 KOs) of Gelendzhik, Russia, and San Francisco’s Karim Mayfield (19-2-1, 11 KOs) in a 147-pound contest set for 10 rounds. Mikhaylenko’s opponent was originally slated to be Ray Robinson, but an injury suffered in an automobile accident caused Robinson to withdraw. Mayfield hopes to upset Mikhaylenko’s plans to fast-track up the ladder in the deeply talented welterweight division.
HBO’s flagship “World Championship Boxing” series marks its 44th year in 2016, while HBO Boxing presented its 1,000th fight last year.